Luang Prabang - A Copy of Nowhere Else

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Luang Prabang, which is also called as Luang Phabang, is the former capital of Laos and declared a UNESCO World Heritage city in 1995. With numerous attractions reflecting Indochinese architecture, Buddhist temples and colorful cultures, Luang Prabang is considered the spiritual heart of Laos.

Luang Prabang Province is situated in the center of a mountainous region in northern Laos, about 300 km north of Vientiane. The city town is built on a peninsula formed by the Mekong River and its tributaries, the Nam Khan and the Kual Hop, in a clay basin surrounded by limestone mountains. Longboats run the rivers, rice fields line the banks, mountains paint the distant landscape, and the slow pace of life will envelop even the most harried traveler. 

Luang Prabang Is Recognized as a World Heritage Town By UNESCO Since 1995

Many legends are associated with the creation of the city, including one that recounts that Buddha would have smiled when he rested there during his travels, prophesying that it would one day be the site of a rich and powerful city.

Luang Prabang Ancient Town

Luang Prabang is exceptional for both its rich architectural and artistic heritage that reflects the fusion of Lao traditional urban architecture with that of the colonial era. Its remarkably well-preserved townscape reflects the alliance of these two distinct cultural traditions. The old town center of Luang Prabang is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995 for its outstanding cultural, historic and architectural values and its harmonious relationship between the natural and built environment. 

Luang Prabang is clearly the supermodel of Laos and to that end, it certainly has been manicured to appeal to western tourists; for some, this will be part of its charm, whereas for others, it will be off-putting. 

Pick any side street and you’ll be treated to unexpected delights that reward present awareness - a beautiful garden, a breathtaking river view, the ancient stones of a temple, the handmade artistry of a silversmith.

Laid back atmosphere in Luang Prabang

History

Archaeological evidence suggests that Luang Prabang has been inhabited since at least 8.000 BC. During the ascendance of the Chenla kingdom, centered in southern Laos and northern Cambodia between the 6th and 8th centuries, Luang Prabang was known as Muang Sua.

In the 14th century, King Fa Ngum founded the Lan Xang Kingdom, in Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang remained the capital of the kingdom until 1545, when it lost its capital and administrative status to Wieng Chan (now Vientiane).

After the establishment of the French Protectorate in 1893, following a period of turmoil during which the country was divided into three independent kingdoms, Luang Prabang once again became the royal and religious capital during the reign of King Sisavang Vong. It played this role until Vientiane became the administrative capital in 1946.

Temple At Royal Palace Museum, Luang Prabang

Culture

The province has a total population of just over 400.000 that includes 12 distinct ethnic groups. The Khmu are the largest ethnic group in the province and make up the majority (about 44%) of the provincial population. They are a Mon-Khmer speaking people known for their knowledge of the forest, and they are believed to be the original inhabitants of Laos. The Hmong are the second most populous ethnic minority.

The locals help each other in unassuming, kind ways no matter the chore or need. The schools and shops close at mid-day as family and friends gather for their afternoon respite, and the tantalizing scent of homemade stir-fries lazily wafts through the street corridors,mixing with the banter of easy conversation.

The residents treat visitors with the same respect they show to each other, making it easy to feel comfortable and at home.

When the sun dips behind the mountains, the lanterns of the night market light up like so many fireflies, and all sorts of impressive silver jewelry, silk textiles and handmade crafts are put on display. You won’t hear any aggressive selling tactics by the vendors though; you only sense their pride as you admire their work.

Luang Prabang Night Market

In brief, being the first UNESCO site listed in the country of Laos, Luang Prabang, without a doubt, offers a spectacular array of culture, nature, and of course, mouthwatering food. Even wandering the streets you’ll get a glimpse of life here. If you ever consider to travel to Laos – which you should absolutely do – take your time and stay in Luang Prabang for at least a couple of days. 

Xuyen

Image Sources: Internet

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